Chapter 4. Managing
There has probably been more nonsense written about management than just about any other subject. If everyone knows so much about this activity, why is it that the folks down in the trenches universally disdain it?
This subject has puzzled me for decades. I remember as a young worker falling into the trap of believing that my bosses were idiots. A little later on I realized that this was just a variant of Mark Twain's feelings about his dad when he was 15 or so. I began to see that the job was not as easy as I first thought it was. And, in some sense, I was a little lucky; I didn't get to manage people for the first time until I was somewhat older than the average brand-new manager. So maybe I was able to make fewer blunders early in my management career.
Nonetheless, I am sure that I made at least my share along the way, and some of them were doozies, believe me. Looking back on it now, with the luxury of hindsight, I take comfort in a few things. First, every time I screwed up I felt painmost of it self-inflicted. That pain was useful, because it caused imprinting, sort of like touching the hot stove as a child. I like to think that I didn't repeat too many of my big mistakes, but instead found variety in my errors. More seriously, I began to study what the really good managers did. Finding good role models is hard, but when you do find one, the crucial thing is to carefully analyze what makes him or her great. I would spend time with these folks, who were sometimes (but not always) willing mentors, trying to extract every secret I could from them. My theory was that life was too short to make all the mistakes myself; rather, it was more efficient to try to learn from the mistakes of others.